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new tendencies exhibition catalogues 1961 - 1973
about those civil war monuments
Structures can be seen, examined and created, but they can also be ignored, changed and destroyed. Every structuralism that studies structures always emphasises the whole over individual sections (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts), with a crucial role ascribed to the organisation of structures and the functional relationships between their elements (constituent parts). The same principle forms the basis of Hermann Haken’s (1927) synergetics1 and my fractal analysis2 of structures in quantitative linguistics – which, like the majority of structuralist movements, was preceded by Swiss linguist and semiotician Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913). However, this approach deliberately highlights the inadequacy and limited applicability of Descartes’s analytic method (Discourse on the Method, 1637).
The French today understand structuralism or post-structuralism primarily as a monumental philosophic movement represented by Michel Foucault (1926–1984), Roland Barthes (1915–1980), Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007), Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995), Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) and others. In Czech circles, structuralism is justifiably often associated with the Prague Linguistic Circle, whose core members were Roman Jakobson (1896–1982), Jan Mukařovský (1891–1975) and Vilém Mathesius (1882–1945). The Prague structuralists’ aesthetics evaluated a work semiotically as a sign whose parts and whole are bearers of meaning.3
Structuralism in Morellet’s and Sýkora’s Structures
collecting Paul Evans
The spell wore off quickly. At the time of Péladan’s death, in 1918, he was already seen as an absurd relic of a receding age. He is now known mainly to scholars of Symbolism, connoisseurs of the occult, and devotees of the music of Erik Satie. (I first encountered Péladan in connection with Satie’s unearthly 1891 score “Le Fils des Étoiles,” or “The Son of the Stars”; it was written for Péladan’s play of that title, which is set in Chaldea in 3500 B.C.) His contemporary Joris-Karl Huysmans remains a cult figure—“Against the Grain,” Huysmans’s 1884 novel, is still read as a primer of the Decadent aesthetic—but none of Péladan’s novels have been translated into English. So when an exhibition entitled “Mystical Symbolism: The Salon de la Rose + Croix in Paris, 1892-1897” opens at the Guggenheim Museum, on June 30th, most visitors will be entering unknown territory. The show occupies one of the tower galleries, in rooms painted oxblood red, with furniture of midnight-blue velvet. On the walls, the Holy Grail glows, demonic angels hover, women radiate saintliness or lust. The dark kitsch of the fin de siècle beckons.